Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Pink yarrow

with 36 comments

I’d read that yarrow flowers (Achillea millefolium) could be pink.
Nevertheless, all of the ones I’d seen were white.
Finally in Great Hills Park on May 18th I came across a few pink ones.

The Old English word for this plant was gearwe, which has evolved into our modern yarrow.
Similarly, yet used to be gīet; year was gēar; and the geard that became yard still showed its link to garden.

And we can’t leave without mentioning that pink
was the name of a flower before it became the name of a color.

For an interesting and readable account of yarrow’s distribution and genetics,
you’re welcome to check out an article from A Wandering Botanist.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2021 at 5:37 AM

36 Responses

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  1. Interesting to see your pics. We see various shades of pink here along with the more common white. Did a few posts back in Mar 2019 on one roadside verge that looked pretty at Gore, Southland, NZ: https://exploringcolour.wordpress.com/?s=gore+achillea

    Ms. Liz

    May 29, 2021 at 5:48 AM

    • The yarrow shown at your link (“Live and Let Live”) had such extensive pink. I felt favored to find the little bit I did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2021 at 7:15 AM

      • I’d never seen so much pink in one place so it was unusual. ~normally just bits of pink here and there in the roadside verge, fairly pale with the occasional treat of a brighter splash! It was a memorable find 🙂

        Ms. Liz

        May 29, 2021 at 2:38 PM

  2. Beautiful.


    May 29, 2021 at 6:58 AM

  3. Some flowers change their colour as they grow. But in the case of the yarrow, the ones with a touch of pink perhaps are a subspecies. Just wondering …

    Peter Klopp

    May 29, 2021 at 8:34 AM

    • As far as I know, the pink yarrow is just a variation, not a subspecies. For comparison, take Mexican hats, which have appeared here recently, and whose ray florets vary from all yellow to all brown with various mixtures of the two; they’re all a single species. Compare human races.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2021 at 11:03 AM

  4. I have never seen a pink yarrow, Steve, so this was a treat. I also liked hearing about the color pink. Wonderful salute to yarrow.

    Jet Eliot

    May 29, 2021 at 10:22 AM

    • Then I’m just 11 days ahead of you in seeing pink yarrow. It was a treat to finally see that color of yarrow, which I’d read about. With regard to the word pink itself, linguists know that the meanings a word develops are unpredictable. Pink could just as easily have started as a color word and then gotten applied to a flower of that color, rather than the other way around. For example, blue was a color before people dubbed certain flowers bluebells and bluebonnets. In the opposite direction, chartreuse was a liqueur before people used the word to represent the color of that liqueur, and similarly for orange, which started as a fruit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2021 at 11:09 AM

  5. Probably blushing from the attention.

    Steve Gingold

    May 29, 2021 at 11:05 AM

  6. Mine are all white and in full bloom. Those are pretty in pink!


    May 29, 2021 at 12:04 PM

    • All-white is what I’m used to, so yours fit that conception. Now we’re wondering why a few go for pretty in pink.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2021 at 12:14 PM

  7. I didn’t realize they could be pink. Like you the only ones I’ve seen were white. I love the variety out there, it never ends.

    Todd Henson

    May 29, 2021 at 5:29 PM

    • That makes two of us, though I’d heard they could be pink without ever seeing one till that day. As I’ve sometimes said: variety is the species of life.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2021 at 6:57 PM

  8. I couldn’t remember seeing yarrow — pink, white, or otherwise — and wondered how I could have missed it. Then I looked at the BONAP map, and grinned. The areas I frequent — Brazoria and southward, east Texas, the Kerrville/Medina area — aren’t its favored locations. It’s a beautiful plant; its shade of pink reminds me of pink evening primrose. It still brought to mind Peter Yarrow, just as it did in 2012 (!). As my great-aunt Rilla liked to say, “Tempus fidgets.”


    May 30, 2021 at 7:34 AM

    • You’re covered: no one can blame you for a lack of attentiveness in noticing yarrow. As for the capitalized version, you may have heard me mention that when I was a student at Columbia, Peter, Paul and Mary showed up on campus one day and I got their autographs. I think I still have them somewhere.

      I first heard “Tempus fidgets” from our friend Roy Barkley, who died a few weeks ago.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2021 at 10:05 AM

  9. Interesting to see your pink yarrow. We get both the pink and usual white cropping up in our ‘lawn’ (I use the term loosely) and they can really spread. Luckily they’re good for bees too.

    Ann Mackay

    May 30, 2021 at 10:10 AM

    • I’d describe yarrow in the wild here as neither common nor uncommon, meaning that I occasionally see some.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2021 at 11:13 AM

  10. The common name for yarrow in German is Garbe, Gerbe, Gerwe or similar, depending on where you live. Here we call it Schafgarbe. Garbe is old German for a sheaf (as in wheat or grass). So, food for sheep!


    May 31, 2021 at 1:41 AM

    • Oh, and pink is not uncommon here.


      May 31, 2021 at 1:42 AM

    • Look how close Gerwe is to Old English gearwe. Now we have to wonder if any Anglo-Saxons referred to it with the Old English equivalent of sheepsheaf.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 31, 2021 at 6:40 AM

      • I suppose as soon as sheep farming became common that something similar was used by someone somewhere! 😉


        May 31, 2021 at 2:00 PM

  11. I’d love to find pink yarrow, I’ve only seen white ones. And thanks for the etymology!


    May 31, 2021 at 9:25 AM

    • You’re welcome for the etymology. It doesn’t take much to get me talking about word origins. As for pink yarrow, if I could finally find some after a couple of decades, you can too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 31, 2021 at 9:57 AM

  12. I’m slowly catching up with you, Steve. I’ve only seen white ones in the wild myself, but have come across pink as well as yellow cultivars of them at nurseries.

    Lavinia Ross

    June 4, 2021 at 4:43 PM

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